The DWP have cynically arranged for the long-awaited employment and support allowance (ESA) death statistics to be released immediately before a bank holiday in the middle of the parliamentary summer recess, Benefits and Work can reveal. This is a traditional method of burying bad news in the hope it gets the minimum possible publicity.
The ESA death statistics will be released on Thursday 27 August, immediately before the bank holiday in England and Wales on Monday 31 August.
So, not only will the news receive much less attention because it is in the immediate run up to the holiday, but parliament is in recess, so ministers cannot be challenged on the statistics.
Given the enormous delay in publishing these figures, it is very clear that the timing was absolutely designed to ensure the figures receive a s little attention as possible.
It is also still not clear whether the statistics will be in the same format as a previous release, allowing a direct comparison. All that the DWP ae saying at this stage is that:
“This publication will provide information on those who have died after claiming Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance in Great Britain in response to a number of Freedom of Information requests.”
On the same day, the DWP are publishing a more comprehensive – and probably deliberately opaque – set of statistics entitled ‘Mortality statistics: out-of-work benefit claimants Mar 2003 to Feb 2014’.
According to the DWP:
“This publication will provide mortality statistics for people on out-of-work benefits in Great Britain by age group and sex, from March 2003 to February 2014. Out of work benefits are Jobseeker’s Allowance, Incapacity Benefit /Severe Disablement Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support.”
Benefits and Work will alert readers as soon as the statistics are available.